Thai navy to seek approval to buy its first 3 submarines

Thailand's defense minister says its navy will seek Cabinet approval to purchase its first three submarines.

Prawit Wongsuwan, who is also deputy prime minister, said Friday the submarines will cost 36 billion baht ($1 billion) in total, with payments to be made over 10 years. He said the first of the Chinese-made Yuan class S26T submarines will be purchased out of the 2017 budget.

The navy has been seeking to buy submarines for almost a decade. When it revived its plan last year, it delayed submitting it to the Cabinet after widespread criticism that it would be wasteful. Thailand's military seized power in a 2014 coup.

Prawit said submarines would be useful because Thailand has resources in the Andaman Sea to protect and because neighboring countries are also acquiring them.